Mrs. Ethel Lee Ivory celebrates 95th Birthday

June 6, 2019

Photo by Yvonne Kemp

By: Veronica Owens

Have you ever been in awe of an elder that you just met, even though you felt that you knew them for a very long time? Well, with this one lady, I had this same encounter and what a pleasure it was to meet her.

Mrs. Ethel Lee Ivory was born in Corinth, Mississippi, to parents Lenon and Ester Spence. She has 11 siblings and she is the second eldest child. Upon leaving Mississippi in 1943, where segregation and Jim Crow laws were the norm, Mrs. Ivory ventured to Milwaukee upon the recommendation of her eldest brother and set up residence with him here to seek a better life. While being here for several years, she met and married Edward Ivory and had seven children. Mrs. Ivory worked for many years at Spic and Span as a laundry helper and held many cooking positions. One of her favorite positions was working for the Pandl restaurant family as a baker. By always being a self-starter and self-taught by her Mom and Grandmother in the kitchen, her love and passion for cooking resulted in the opening of a family style restaurant in the mid-80’s with her mom and four sisters named “Mama’s Place” located on 27th and North. People traveled near and far to eat southern home cooked soul food meals daily in their restaurant. Since Mrs. Ivory’s specialty was baking, she enjoyed creating and serving mouthwatering pecan and egg custard pies, various fruit cobblers, delectable peach and fried apple pies.

Mrs. Ivory wears many hats in the community. She has resided on Milwaukee’s Northside for more than 60 years. After surviving heart surgeries several years ago, she is very proud of her work in the healthcare industry by assisting in taking care of the elderly. She is very active at the Project Focal Point Senior Center and is heavily involved in the Milwaukee County Department of Aging’s senior companion program as a companion specialist. Her role is to visit seniors in the community assigned in the program, including frequent visits and phone calls to the individuals and make sure that they have the necessities for daily living and communicates back to the agency about the person’s well-being.

She feels that one of her ministries from the Lord is being of service to others. As an active member in her local church, Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, where Pastor Harold and First Lady Frances Turner officiate, she holds various positions. She is currently on the Pastor aid board, Mothers Board and is the leading member of the fund-raising committee, in addition to, assisting and volunteering with food drives, back to school and clothing drive initiatives for her church community.

As a seasoned nonagenarian, she recently celebrated her 95th birthday with church members, family and friends. Her recipe for longevity is: always stay beautiful inside and out, having a continuous praying spirit, eat and grow your own produce, a great loving relationship with Jesus Christ, love and respect of self and family, treat people as you would like to be treated, keep your mind active in learning new things and communicating with the young at heart. She prays to reach 100 years of age, so that she would have reached a major milestone in her life. She feels truly blessed with her longevity and gives all the credit to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Carrying with her the sharpness, wisdom and feistiness of Black womanhood and being seasoned with a great amount of history, Mrs. Ivory will keep you laughing and crying, while inquiring about her sharing more of life’s daily mysteries. Some of her words of wisdom are “that we all have a story to share in this life. Never look down your nose on the downtrodden because one day that could be one of us.” One of her favorite gospel hymns “Where he leads me I will follow; I’ll go with him, with Him all the way”. True words spoken from a seasoned diva, as we welcome more from our community elders to bring forth the wealth of knowledge, information and inspiration to us all.

“Happy Birthday Mrs. Ivory! “